This article will go into detail to try and give a clear understanding about what bubble tea is, its place of origin, and who invented it. The information will give some thoughts from the inventor of bubble tea herself, and the traditional way that she makes her own bubble tea drinks for the best quality and flavor.
The information that the inventor of bubble tea provides will give the facts of what she would consider a bubble tea drink to be, and what it is not.
What Is Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea is any drink that is made that includes a boba topping in it. The main type is tapioca pearls, but it isn’t limited to just tapioca pearls. The drink can include any other toppings as a substitute, like popping pearls, boba jellies, puddings, crystal boba, golden boba, white tapioca pearls, canned toppings, and homemade toppings. All of these toppings are sucked through a boba straw that is used for drinking bubble tea.
Another topping for bubble tea is sago pearls, which are made from tropical trees. The toppings do not have to be made exclusively from tapioca. All of these toppings in the bubble tea is referred by many under one general name as, “boba”. If the topping can be made in such a way that it can be sustained in a drink long enough, and eventually sucked through a boba straw, than it can most likely be classified as a bubble tea if the creator of the drink deems it so.
The flavor of the bubble tea drinks isn’t necessarily what classifies the drink as bubble tea, it is the addition of the desserts/foods in the drink (boba) that make it a bubble tea. This is why bubble tea drinks are sometimes called “boba tea”. Other names for it is pearl milk tea, pearl tea, milk tea, bubble milk tea, and boba milk tea.
Bubble tea is just the general name to place all drinks of this type under, even if they don’t have milk or tea in them, but do include boba. Some bubble teas don’t have milk or tea in them, and are made simply by using soda and adding popping pearls to them for example. Others are made out of coffee and popping pearls, like Starbucks’ drinks that can now include coffee popping pearls in them.
When people think of bubble tea, they usually expect a beverage with boba in it, that usually resembles bubbles in a drink. Tapioca pearls, white tapioca pearls, crystal boba, and popping pearls are the most commonly used boba to use to resemble these “bubbles”. They are used a lot to beautify bubble tea beverages, because of their translucent appearance. The aesthetics of the bubble tea is derived from the Asian culture.
Where Did Bubble Tea Come From?
The idea of bubble tea originated from Taichung, Taiwan by a Taiwanese lady named Lin Hsiu Hui who works for a company named Chun Shui Tang. She attributes all of her success and the success/popularity of bubble tea to this company. The company started in 1983, which is around the time that bubble tea was first discovered. While working for this company, Lin Hsiu Hui made the first bubble tea ever in 1988, and had her colleagues try it. They loved it and begin selling them in their company stores.
Another individual from another company by the name of Tu Tsong-he is also seen as the inventor of bubble tea, but Lin Hsiu Hui says that she and her company were the first to invent it and sell it. She said that at the time of selling the drink, that patents weren’t something that they were thinking of, so they just released the drink and started selling it. This is why it is difficult to determine who the inventor of bubble tea is, even though she is definitely seen as the creator of bubble tea.
Lin Hsiu Hui says that she didn’t like tea before working with Chun Shui Tang. She is more passionate about serving tea to her customers, which is what led her to work for the company. This is also the reason for the rise in popularity of bubble tea.
She didnt like tea however, she did love to drink milk tea daily at the time, and she had eaten tapioca pudding since her youth. After trying the combination together, she loved it.
The idea was later introduced to the CEO and founders of the company after she became the store manager in around 1986 (she says it could have possibly been 1986 or 1987). After the idea was introduced, it was released in stores and sold to specific customers who liked it, before being actually introduced publicly to everyone on the menu.
Bubble tea became officially popular all over Taiwan in around 1990 or 1991. In 2 months it was sold around the streets of Taiwan on Siwei Street (a Taiwan marketplace). In 6 months, everyone in the central district was selling it; and by 1990 or 1991, it blew up all over Taiwan in popularity says Lin Hsiu Hui.
The traditional way that Lin Hsiu Hui makes good bubble tea is by using syrup, ice, traditional tapioca pearls, tea, and milk. She says that first all the creamers, powders, and syrups should be mixed in using hot tea first, then added to a cup shaker that has ice. The cup shaker is shaked until it is all fully mixed. Afterwards, tapioca pearls are added to a drinking cup, and the mixture is poured into the cup on top of the tapioca pearls, before being consumed with a boba straw.
Lin Hsiu Hui also uses other bases for making bubble tea drinks, besides just milk and tea. She also uses a large variety of topping too (boba jellies), besides the traditional tapioca pearls.
She believes that the popularity of bubble will continue to rise, since other parts of the world haven’t become acquainted to bubble tea yet. So far she has been right.